The Golden Hours: we talk again with Saddo & Aitch, curator Diana Marincu and Calina gallery owner Alina Cristescu about the new show, and life.
and we are happy to share the news,
talk to them about the show,
learn more from the curator Diana Marincu who invited them and made this happen,
and also chit-chat with Alina Cristescu, the founder of Calina, arguably one of the most influential people in arts management today,
in exactly this order.
AK: you have so many offers to exhibit in quite some countries now; plus, you just moved Vatra Collective to new location, and it needs much attention, and yet you made time in your jammed schedule to come to Timisoara and show at Calina gallery? how come?
S+A: Because we used to like Calina while we were living in Timisoara a few years ago, and we would’ve liked to have a show here, and now that they invited us we couldn’t miss this opportunity.
AK: what’s the inspiration and the underlying concept of the Golden Hours, the show?
S+A: Lately we’ve been quite melancholic and preoccupied by subjects related to memories, dreams, time and death, so we made a small collection of diary fragments, fears, hopes, dreams.
And we were also inspired by J.M. Barrie’s
You must have been warned against letting the golden hours slip by; but some of them are golden only because we let them slip by.
AK: how do you relate to the passing of time yourselves? when do you feel it, and when does if fly by?
S+A: We’re both pretty conscious about it, and it plays an important part in our lives, being a major source of inspiration. We frequently have long sessions of sharing memories from childhood.
AK: looking back, what makes your own collection of golden hours? mind sharing two or three of those w us? what happened? what did you do then?
Aitch: after losing my grandma a few years ago i started working on my memories journal… I was going through a “hate myself for not being there” phase and i felt like all that was left for me to do was remembering as much as possible, writing it down, and sometimes illustrate it. I miss her like crazy…
Saddo: most of my pieces in the show are about my own fears of death, time passing, losing people I care about.
AK: how much of the show is the stuff your bring from home, and how much is an improv, a reaction to the space and feeling at the moment?
S+A: we’ve planned the whole thing pretty well, before arriving to Timisoara this week for the set-up. Diana, the cute curator, helped us with some gallery plans, measurements and photos of the space, and so we were able to figure out how many canvases and wood pieces to bring, plus we also put aside some sexy white walls to paint on.
AK: what kind of visitors do you look forward to? what will make it – or break it – as a super show for you guys?
S+A: we exhibited here first time in a small group show at Carturesti a few years ago, but it’s indeed the first important show, not only in Timisoara, but we feel like it’s our most accomplished exhibition yet, in which we put a great deal of thought, work and soul. We don’t really know what to expect, we feel happy for being here and for having the whole gallery just for ourselves, to arrange it and paint it as we like. And we hope we’ll have all sorts of people visiting, and that they’ll like it.
AK: Diana, you seem to the head of all (new) evil @ Calina, bringing new type of art, lowbrow, daring, off-the-wall to the space that seems to play it more “serious” before. how come? where do you come from in this?
DM: I started the Camera Lucida program here, at Calina Gallery, with the purpose of encouraging and promoting young artists who work with different media and for whom the exhibition of their work is not the final stage of the creative process. I don’t think that the exhibition is the only instrument of an art space and the dialog between artists and the public is very important. I studied for three years in Bucharest, but I was born in Timisoara, so in a way I wanted to come back to my hometown and bring here the people I met there and start a platform of dialog in a way.
The seriousness of exhibitions is a very common “disease” in the art field of Timisoara and I am trying to show the public that there are artists who dear to show work in progress projects full of humor, poetry or even critical thinking. Hanging canvases on walls is not enough to educate a public. I am very concerned with this educational matter because I used to be a teacher and I know how important it is for young people to see and understand contemporary art.
AK: as a curator, what informs and drives your choices, and what is the agenda you are trying to shape w your shows?
DM: My agenda is very simple: I want to show good artists from very different conceptual tendencies and mediums of expression, from photography to installation that have their very articulate and personal view on art and the meeting of art and other fields.
Some of them came to my mind because of their obvious discontent with what the Art Academy has to offer. The crisis of the art pedagogy is visible, but yet ignored by the authorities. As a curator, I am too young to say that I have a very strong focus on just one part of the art production, I usually visit galleries as much as I can and try to be informed about everything.
AK: what attracted you in Saddo & Aitch? which was the story of you seeing the first piece, then more, and finally reaching out to them?
DM: I used to be very attentive with what Aitch was doing as a student (she was one year older than me, but her class was next to the studio I used to work in). For her graduate diploma, she made a book of domestic monsters that I found amazingly beautiful, full of sensibility and intelligence. After that, we met again in Bucharest, at Alert studio, an artist run space where I was working at the time and rediscovered her and Saddo.
AK: who are the type of people who would resonate with Saddo & Aitch’s work? what would be the key to the show also having a commercial success?
I think that anybody who has the patience and sensibility to read the whole story. It is an exhibition that has an almost narrative story about memory and identity, social issues and fantastic worlds that needs to be discovered.
It is an exhibition that has an almost narrative story about memory and identity, social issues and fantastic worlds that needs to be discovered.
AK: what are your expectations of the show?
DM: I expect a very good show finally, a positive vibe and young people at the opening. I expect a lot of people, really, more than before because of their popularity within young artists.
AK: how do you usually present Calina gallery to someone who’s never been there? we’d love a quick (virtual) tour.
AC: Calina is a private space focused on Romanian contemporary art, run by me, with the help of my team, Reko and Lajos, together with the late Mr Nuţiu, until recently. The gallery is my mirror; it represents my discourse on contemporary art and my personal choices, together with the curator. I think it is important for Timisoara. The town would be emptier without it. Its activity is constant and we have managed to create our own constant visitor base. And I usually invite curators to do their shows here and I don’t “play” the curator, even if sometimes it seems so tempting.
I think it is important for Timisoara. The town would be emptier without it.
AK: you’ve been active since 2007; what has changed, year by year, in the art world, the artists you exhibit and represent, the public and collectors?
AC: The changes come in crescendo rhythm; I very much wish young people to progress and become the joy and the glory for the gallery. The public is the one we built and targeted from the beginning. And the collectors need more courage and advisory.
AK: what is the selection process you apply to the artists whom you offer your space? what you notice first, what you look for, and what makes a difference between a go and a no?
AC: The selection process is also one that needed to be built in time. I tend to choose things by instinct and impulse, and I also collaborate a lot with curators, and listen to their advice. After five years of activity, I think I can afford the courage of choices.
AK: three things we hear often: “1) why go to gallery? I have any art at the tips of my fingers (=web). 2) galleries are cold, unfriendly, high-nosed places for insiders, mainly, they are just not welcoming. and 3) who buys this? I would never want to exhibit this in my living room.” what do you reply to those?
AC: My first reaction is to say that visual culture is really a need. But it can be easily read as snobbish. So I usually tell people that, no matter what feelings and anxieties contemporary art gives them, it is a good start to just go and see shows and search and discover whatever matches their taste. You don’t have to like everything, it would be odd; there are things I enjoy, but I would never take home with me.
AK: one of our favorite reads, Monocle, likes to play with “a perfect [something]” idea. they had a perfect hotel, a perfect air carrier, and many more. what’s a perfect gallery? where are you on this path?
AC: It depends on what you have chosen and where you are. In this moment, I am where I always wanted to be.
Golden Hours opens Monday, and here’s a handy Facebook link.
UPDATE May 15: The opening was a blast, we hear; see some pics below from the final layout of works. You still have time to visit by June 7, if in Timisoara, or contact the gallery for prices and delivery.